Nursing Informatics Director Rosemary Ventura: Tailored smartphone improves staff efficiency

Smartphones tailored specifically to improve clinician workflow are helping New York-Presbyterian Hospital boost communication efforts and cut back on waste, according to Director of Nursing Informatics Rosemary Ventura.

Speaking with FierceHealthIT at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's annual conference in Las Vegas last week, Ventura said that while previously nurses were expected to lug around bulky electronic tools such as barcode scanners and radios and tablets, as well as wear a tool belt, the smartphone now combines many of their needs into one device.

"It's secure, it's HIPAA compliant," Ventura said. "It's really taking the mobility of the nurse and bringing more efficiency to the position."

Ventura, in her interview, also discussed how such technology is boosting patient morale, and shared statistics on how it improves patient care.

FierceHealthIT: How much more efficiency do clinicians experience using smartphones?

Rosemary Ventura: Before, if you needed to call the doctor or resident, you could go in through the electronic health record and text-page them; you could write something in that message the resident would get on a page. But at the end of the day, they would then have to call you back to coordinate care efforts. This offers more real-time ability to do that, without having to go back to computers or to phones at the desk.

FHIT: How else have communications improved?

Ventura: The tool incorporates most of our nursing staff and staff on the unit, as well as techs and phlebotomy teams; it's been revolutionary in terms of how phlebotomy communicates with the nurses and the providers.

Traditionally, what had happened was, you'd go into a room, you'd try to collect a specimen on a patient, and if you couldn't get it for whatever reason, there was no way, other than you going to find the nurse and tell them "I was unable to collect Rosemary's blood." It's not efficient and you might not always catch that person. And, what was missing in that communication loop was the provider.

This technology has really brought us all together in terms of that circle to know in real-time the minute a phlebotomist can't get a sample; the notification is there for the nurse on the device and it also goes into the EHR.

FHIT: Can you quantify how this has impacted actual care results?

Ventura: In terms of immediate outcomes, when we implemented a specimen collection module, we went from a compliance perspective of who collected the specimen and when was it collected from 23 percent to 95 percent. Previously, we had a solution where a provider would collect a specimen, walk it over to another computer terminal with a tethered scanner and scan it in; all of that's eliminated. Now we actually have that data real time, whereas before the laboratory staff would be begging for that information.

We've also decreased our duplicate orders for laboratories by around 20 percent.

FHIT: What has staff response been to using these smartphones?

Ventura: We have about 1,200 texts being sent between the care team weekly on some units, so we're really analyzing that data to see what are they actually texting about. We have about six months-worth of data at this point.

A majority of texts seem to be around tasks. One of the outcomes that we saw that was interesting was social support. Nurses texted each other a lot about social issues around the unit, as well as with advice for everyday tasks.

That's important to people because you're helping each other. Nurses have to rely on each other. That's your family. Your colleagues are the people who support you.

Editor's Note: This interview has been condense for clarity and content.